There’s a crisis in the missional church conversatio–and Mike Breen has a solution.
You may remember the simple and effective diagram from your science textbook with three panels: the first showing a dry sponge, the second showing a sopping wet sponge, and the third showing water spilling off a saturated sponge. Once the sponge is saturated, there’s no use trying to absorb more water; it will all be spilled onto the floor and wasted.
The missional church faces a crisis of information saturation. Much of the missional conversation has centered on ideas – brilliant ideas, ideas rooted deeply in theology and the sending nature of God – good ideas shared over coffee, blogs, and breakout sessions – but primarily ideas.
It’s been a conversation – an exchange of words and thoughts – a cerebral and theological exercise that allows for something akin to Bonhoeffer’s cheap grace; as long as you can talk the missional talk, the shape and structure of your church and your leadership doesn’t actually have to change.
In his latest book, Multiplying Missional Leaders, Mike Breen effectively calls out out the crisis by offering an audacious solution: audacious because he’s addressing a crisis not widely acknowledged (because we like all the new books, blogs, and conferences!) and because he’s presenting a model – a step-by-step solution – in a conversation that has often shirked models and step-by-step solutions. But possibly the most audacious part of Breen’s solution is its simplicity.
To sum it up in one word, the solution is discipleship.
Breen’s writing, speaking, leading, coaching–and the work of the organization he leads (3DM)–boils down to discipleship, and Multiplying Missional Leaders continues in this trajectory. The book’s focus is on missional leaders, and more specifically forming leaders through discipleship because, as Breen would say, all leadership issues are discipleship issues.
Mike has the unique gift of recognizing and appreciating the breadth of the missional conversation. He’s not knocking the books, the conferences, or the churches – he’s not rejecting the information. Rather, he’s gathering together what others are saying and offering a clear invitation to a very practical and strategic way forward. And he does this without downplaying other voices or disregarding the unique contextual environments in which discipleship takes shape.
In Multiplying Missional Leaders, Breen outlines some very practical leadership tools rooted in discipleship. He lays out a “leadership pipeline” process for training and deploying leaders. He outlines how the five-fold ministry giftings play out in a context of discipleship and mission. He talks about the essential role of relationships and “family” in the leadership environment, and speaks to the tension between structured and organic models of church communities and leadership. Throughout, Breen navigates corporate principles of leadership with the spiritual reality of the call of Christian leaders.
As I’ve interacted with Breen’s writing and work with 3DM over the past few years, I’ve appreciated the stability of it all. His message and solution have remained steady, embodied in 3DM’s slogan “keep calm and disciple on.” Multiplying Missional Leaders is a great resource for those longing to bridge the gap between leadership, formation, mission, and discipleship. It is practical and strategic, designed not just to convey information but help you lead others towards a leadership culture deeply ingrained and integrated with transformational discipleship.
Dave Kludt is a pastor/equipper at Kairos Hollwood and works for the Fuller Doctor of Ministry program. When not doing one of these two things, he hangs out with his wife in East Hollywood reading books, laughing with friends, biking around the neighborhood, and eating ethnic food.